My life as a vixen

Morwenna Griffiths

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Isaiah Berlin’s influential essay, ‘The Hedgehog and the Fox’ suggests that there are two categories of thinkers (Berlin, 1969). Using an ancient Greek poetic fragment (‘The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing’), he suggests they can be divided into hedgehogs who view the world through the lens of a single defining idea and foxes, who draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea. I am a fox – in fact, a vixen (perhaps not something that would have occurred to Berlin whose references are uniformly to males). Looking back on my intellectual history, I see that it is one in which my ideas have changed and emerged as I moved from one social context to another, collaborated with other people, taught in a range of institutions, and relished the challenge of coming to grips with unfamiliar ideas. I have never stopped learning from the very beginning of my career as an educator, when I was an untrained volunteer in a socially disadvantaged primary school, to my current position as a professor of education at Edinburgh University. The longer I continue in education, the more I realise the need to go on developing my practices and my understanding. I still wonder what to do for the best. I keep on making mistakes (new ones!), and I keep on learning from them. I think I understand more than I did. But I am still puzzled and perplexed by the ideas I encounter and am still thinking hard about how to deal with them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLeaders in Philosophy of Education
Subtitle of host publicationIntellectual Self-Portraits (Second Series)
EditorsLeonard Waks
Place of PublicationRotterdam
PublisherSense Publishers
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)ISBN 978-94-6209-758-2 (e-book)
ISBN (Print)ISBN 978-94-6209-757-5 (hardback), ISBN 978-94-6209-756-8 (paperback)
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series



  • education
  • philosophy
  • autobiography
  • Social justice
  • feminism

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